Sujata Pai revives age-old sari printing techniques
Drawing inspiration from her mother’s and grandmother’s age-old Kanjivaram saris, Chennai-based designer Sujata Pai is known for reinventing and giving heirloom saris a makeover. Effectively, she designs palazzos, gowns, lehengas and skirts from vintage drapes, transforming them into contemporary wear by using natural vegetable dyes.
Block rocking prints
The designer has two collections for this season — while one is for a festive wardrobe, the other is an Autumn Winter spread. Her latest line of saris, titled the Devi collection, includes an aesthetic blend of traditional silk weaves of Pochampalli, Kanchipuram and Benares, embellished with handwoven embroidery. A closer look would give you a glimpse of ajrakh, kantha, kalamkari, zardosi and block prints. “I have experimented with foil printing techniques in colours of gold and silver. These are used to give a shiny effect primarily on a white background,” says the 49-year-old. The festive line features earthy as well as classic bright shades of kumkum, orange and red with elephant, cow and calf, and lotus motifs. A relatively new entrant in the design industry, Sujata owns and runs the five-year-old boutique Ambi, on Eldams Road. The Ambi logo, interestingly, is of a mango, while the product collections at the store predominantly feature mango motifs.
The art of revival
Apart from this, she also has a white Indo-Western collection titled Many a Story, featuring jackets, cholis with skirts and shaharas. “I have been planning this for six months and managed to gather 100 saris and 85 Indo-Western pieces for an exhibition at Bengaluru. They will also be displayed at our studio in Chennai till the festival of Pongal (next January),” she adds. Meanwhile, the designer has already started working on her summer collection. She mainly works with weavers from Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Hyderabad. “For my latest line, I have worked with the Maheshwars from Indore and Karigars. Expect more of chikankari work for the summer and shamdani pieces on cotton.” Sujata now aspires to take her collection to the Lakme Fashion Week. Until then, she’s working with Ahimsa silk, also known as peace silk, which is said to be made using traditional methods that are much more humane to the silk worms.
Available at Ambi. `10,000 onwards. Details: 9840778558